Jury in cop-killer case agreed to acquit before mistrial declared lawyers say

Jury in cop-killer case agreed to acquit before mistrial declared lawyers say

Lawyers for Karen Read, the woman accused of killing her Boston police officer boyfriend John O’Keefe, claimed on Monday that jurors had reached an agreement to acquit her before the judge declared a mistrial. This revelation came in a motion to dismiss charges of second-degree murder and leaving the scene of an accident, as reported by Boston 25.

According to the defense, three of the 12 jurors sent unsolicited communications to them, indicating that the jury had a firm 12-0 agreement that Read was not guilty of two of the three charges against her. The trial, which ended after five days of deliberations, saw Judge Beverly Cannone declare a mistrial due to the jury’s inability to reach a unanimous verdict.

“Despite our commitment, we are deeply divided by fundamental differences,” the jurors wrote in a note to the judge. “No lack of understanding or effort. Consensus is not reachable.”

Read, 44, was accused of backing her SUV into O’Keefe and leaving him to die in a blizzard in Canton in January 2022. The defense argued that O’Keefe’s influential police colleagues set her up as the fall person, while prosecutors claimed the couple had an alcohol-fueled argument on the night of his death.

In the motion filed on Monday, attorneys Alan Jackson and David Yannetti asked the judge to dismiss the charges, citing the jury’s agreement to acquit her. They argued that retrying Read on these counts would violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

The defense team stated that they received unsolicited communications from jurors following the trial, which ended in a hung jury. The jurors reportedly said that the jury had a firm 12-0 agreement that Read was not guilty of two of the three charges against her, including second-degree murder.

One juror told the defense team that no one thought Read hit O’Keefe on purpose. Another juror reportedly said there was no consideration for second-degree murder and that Read should have been acquitted.

These assertions contradict the jury foreman’s notes to Judge Cannone during the deliberations, which indicated that the jurors were hopelessly deadlocked due to deeply held beliefs. The foreman stated that the division was not due to a lack of effort or diligence but rather a sincere adherence to individual principles and moral codes.

Prosecutors have announced plans to seek a new trial, while Read’s lawyers countered with a double jeopardy argument, claiming that the jury had effectively rendered a not guilty verdict on at least two charges.

Read was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly running over O’Keefe while dropping him off to meet friends in Canton. The couple had been out on a bar crawl, with Read allegedly consuming seven drinks in 90 minutes. Prosecutors claimed that after Read drunkenly ran over her boyfriend, she drove off and left him to die outside as a snowstorm approached.

The defense argued that Read was framed in a law enforcement cover-up and that O’Keefe died after getting into an altercation with his officer friends. The two-month trial featured testimony from 74 witnesses and included revelations about unprofessional messages sent by the lead detective.

On July 1, 2024, Judge Cannone declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Read faced up to life in prison if convicted on the top count of murder.

The Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office stated that it plans to retry Read and is reviewing the motion to dismiss. The DA’s office looks forward to picking a new trial date on July 22.

Read’s filing references the double jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for the same crime. She also faces a charge of manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor.

The defense argued that the court did not question the jury foreperson about which counts the jury was deadlocked on. They claimed that had the court inquired, not guilty verdicts could have been recorded for the charges of second-degree murder and leaving the scene of an accident.

Former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley commented that the judge has many options, including hearing from the prosecution and potentially holding a hearing with the jury. She noted that the motion contains hearsay and that the judge must determine if it raises a question worth pursuing.

Read, a former adjunct professor at Bentley University, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of personal injury and death. The parties are due to return to court on July 22 for a status conference.

Hours after the mistrial was declared, the Massachusetts State Police announced that Trooper Michael Proctor, the lead investigator, had been relieved from duty and transferred out of the detective unit. Proctor was questioned during the trial about offensive messages he sent during the investigation.

The State Police Association did not respond to a request for comment, and a phone number for Proctor could not be found.

Source: Boston 25, The Boston Globe, AP

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